Even missing a host of star players, the Chiefs have proven too much for Melbourne Rebels, remaining the only unbeaten NZ side in Super Rugby Pacific with a 44-25 victory at Hamilton.

Another standout performance from All Blacks hopeful Shaun Stevenson, who scored two of his side's six tries, led the way, as the fullback continues to put his hand up for higher honours.

The Chiefs missed out on a bonus point win for the first time this season, as the Rebels scored four tries to deny the hosts a full compliment from the win.

After resting several key All Blacks - including co-captains Sam Cane and Brad Weber, and first-five Damian McKenzie - the Chiefs' start in front of their home fans was underwhelming to say the least.

An early penalty to Reece Hodge and try to hooker Alex Mafi saw the Rebels take a surprise 8-0 lead, before the hosts finally got into gear.

A penalty to Bryn Gatland got the Chiefs on the board, before the tabletoppers scored three spectacular tries to take control of the first half.

Winger Emoni Narawa fielded a kick into the Chiefs half, before splitting the defence on the right flank and offloading to put Rameka Poihipi in to level the scores, as Gatland's boot gave the Chiefs the lead for the first time.

Moments later, Poihipi returned the favour and turned from scorer to provider, as a deft kick over the Rebels defensive line allowed Narawa to score the Chiefs' second, courtesy of some incredible footwork on the touchline.

Already the competition's leading tryscorer, Stevenson grabbed the Chiefs' third, latching onto a kick from Alex Nankivell deep in his own territory and crossing over before the break.

The Rebels grabbed a try back to end the first half, as Stacey Ili scored against the upright to bring the first 40 minutes to a close, with the Chiefs leading 27-15.

The scoring continued immediately into the second half, as hooker Tyrone Thompson - starting ahead of All Black Samisoni Taukei'aho - went over from close range, before Stevenson caught the Rebels napping to grab his second of the day and seventh of the season.

Stevenson added an assist to his tally, putting Etene Nanai-Seturo in on the left to give the Chiefs a 44-20 advantage, but that was where their scoring stopped, as they took their foot off the gas to end the second half.

Rebels replacement back David Feliuai had the final say, grabbing the last try from a quick counterattack and denying the Chiefs a bonus point for the first time in 2023.

Victory still gives the Chiefs a five-point gap at the top of Super Rugby Pacific, clear of the Hurricanes in second place.

The competition leaders next face a trip to Sydney, where they'll face the Waratahs with their All Blacks stars back on board.

Chiefs 44 (Stevenson 2, Poihipi, Narawa, Thompson, Nanai-Seturo tries; Gatland 4 conversions & penalty) Melbourne Rebels 25 (Mafi, Ili, Jooste, Feliuai tries; Gordon conversion; Hodge penalty)

Join Newshub at 7pm for live updates of the Blues v Crusaders Super Rugby Pacific clash

2023-03-18T05:46:08Z dg43tfdfdgfd